Wednesday, October 3, 2012

what's your house style?

I found this fun little home decor quiz thanks to a link on Robyn's Facebook page. According to the results, I'm "new country" with a hint of "boho" (though I don't know that I totally agree with that assessment!) -- what are you?

Of course, the way we would like our houses to look and the reality are often not exactly on the same page. I live in a house that looks like this:

(Sorry about the photo quality -- blame This is our neighbor's house, not ours -- which is a crazy shade of yellow -- but it will look pretty much like this soon because we're having it painted)

I always pictured myself living in a house like this:

So I'm trying to decide if I'll be happy living in a house like this -- where all of the other houses in the neighborhood look exactly the same.

Can a quirky bungalow girl find true happiness living in a cookie cutter subdivision?

Okay, I realize I'm very lucky to even be considering such things at a time when so many people are going without -- so we'll put the guilt associated with all of that aside for now. But we're really having a tough time deciding where we want to live!

On the one hand, moving to a new subdivision would make a lot of sense financially: we could get a ton of house for not a lot of cash, because there are short sales and foreclosures everywhere you turn. The downside? There are short sales and foreclosures everywhere you turn. I know that the neighborhood will look and feel different in 10-15 years, but it's hard for me to wrap my head around moving to a cookie-cutter house that probably got thrown together slapdash during the housing boom of the early 2000s. At the same time, there are lots of young families there so we might feel more "at home." And though the house isn't really my dream in terms of style, we wouldn't have to do anything before moving in -- it's ready to go.

I feel more "at home" moving to an older, more established neighborhood. I love the quirky character and charm of older homes. But the upkeep can be a pain (though older homes certainly seem "built to last" more than some newer models), there'd be a lot more work we'd have to do right away when we moved in, and there are certain things we'd have to do without that we could easily get in a newer home: large closets, master bath, first floor laundry. (I don't have any of those things now -- I'm just dreaming of them.)

And then there's the issue of location in town to consider. We live in a college town where many professors have decided to live closer to Chicago for a variety of reasons -- and it has changed the feel of the town as a result. We are committed to living where we work. At the same time, we have to consider the impact of location on our family -- we want Lorelei to have a rich educational experience, and it's hard to know what to think about the changing nature of the school districts in our town and the town just ten minutes north of here. As anyone who works in education knows, it's impossible to predict what schools will be like a decade from now -- but we have to make a decision somehow! Do we live close to campus? Move near an elementary school when the rumor is that our town's schools will be completely reorganized in the next few years? Move to the next town over where the school district seems a little more stable and safe (read: fewer gang fights, fewer issues with district finances) -- but where the town's population is much more homogenous socially, ethnically, religiously, and politically?

I don't expect you to have answers to these questions, of course. But I would love to know how you decided where to live -- and whether you've been happy about your decision!


  1. I took the quiz and got urban funk with a touch of boho, which I think actually fits me!

    I love the second house and like you I also like older quirky homes, but I of course I wouldn't mind living in a newer home either! Sorry I really don't have any answers to questions but I hope you guys will find exactly what your looking for soon!

  2. Oh boy! What a tough decision to make.

    We own a 104 year old house in Omaha that we're renting out while we're living overseas. Something is ALWAYS wrong with it and it feels like we just flush away money fixing things. Owning an old house with character can be a royal pain in the ass! That said, the neighborhood is incredibly awesome and only improving while we're away. (Hopefully we'll actually make it back there before things change, but who knows?)

    This summer we moved out of a cool 1930s townhouse in the center (er, centre) of town for the very edge of suburbia. We had a sit-down with ourselves to talk about what was truly most important to us being happy (and it came down to space and a yard). We never went out like we did back in our Omaha neighborhood, I found walking to the grocery store to be less than charming when it was 40 and raining, and street parking was a nightmare. I don't miss that townhouse one bit.

    The great thing about owning? You can do whatever you want to the inside. I have friends who have turned "ordinary" houses into really cool homes that express personality that the exterior really can't.

    A tough call about the school districts, for sure – I have zero experience in making decisions based on that (for now).

    Happy house hunting!

  3. There's so much psychology that goes into buying a home.
    I love how you posted pictures of what you pictured yourself living in and what you are actually leaning towards. It made me think about my own experience. Beforehand I would have pictured a yellow, two story, older home with wrap around front porch, enclosed back porch, big enclosed back yard with plenty of mature trees. What we ended up with is a much more modern, 1 story home, with vaulted ceilings, a recessed front door with really no option for an add on porch (even if I wanted one). Same goes for the back of the house. I love our home, but there are still times that I long for that front porch. One thing that Matt says and I'm sure you are aware of as well - buying a house doesn't mean you have to commit to it forever. I think keeping that attitude in mind while house hunting can help too, in that every house doesn't have to be your dream home. This way you can be more levelheaded, as opposed to emotionally driven by your decisions.
    Our house is great, but I also think it was a solid investment and will be extremely sell-able AND that after we win the lotto we can buy my dream home.
    Also, once you buy there's the whole psychology that goes into making your house your own. My entire life I always dreamed about how I would do things when I had my very own home. Now that I have my own house I feel more paralyzed by "ruining" it by making it my own, than in letting go and finally doing the things I have always dreamed of. If I were to really let go and do those things it probably wouldn't be as sell-able. It reminds me about how you hear time and time again where people only do all sorts of renovations and modernizations to a home once they plan on selling it, but why couldn't they do those things while they lived there to enjoy it for themselves?

  4. oh yeah, and speaking of older homes (since I just read the previous comment to mine)... older homes are in demand. It seems the majority of people picture themselves in an older home. Everyone wants the character, but no one wants the fear of upkeep and hidden costs of an older home (everything from having to replace furnaces, foundation problems to poor insulation, etc., etc.). From my own experience house hunting it always seemed that the older homes had apparent issues OR if there weren't any apparent then I could only fear if we were to buy, it would soon become the money pit. This could have been our price range. I imagined older homes that are updated and maintained probably were way out of our price range. My point is this; "Why don't they start making homes with the same character as older homes?" This seems like a no brainer to me. I'm guessing that the price is the reason. In a time when homes were built as fast and cheap as possible, contractors and home builders are not looking to be the artisans we want or need them to be.

  5. courtney courtney courtney. i am nodding in sympathy.

  6. Apparently I'm "farmhouse glam." Two phrases from the description did seem fitting: "Less polished" and "bare feet." We'll get there.

    Choosing a home is so tough. Our last place was the brand new (rented) house in the cookie cutter subdivision and our new home has a bit of the character I was craving during our years there. I was so excited to have a home with a bit more charm, but I'm realizing how good I had it before, too. The basement laundry, practically nonexistent closets, and lack of other small conveniences is taking some getting used to.

    While the house is not my dream, I absolutely love our area, which is funny because everywhere we turned during our search we are warned against this county. It's wonderfully diverse and the sense of community is extraordinary.

  7. I got "classic" with a hint of "boho." (I don't know who designs these quizzes!) Sounds like a tough decision on the house search. I loved wanderlynn's comment about making the interior of an "ordinary" house your own. My mom would say, "pray about it." Good luck!

  8. I love that bungalow!

    I got "farmhouse chic." A few years ago, that would have made me cringe. I think I'm okay with that now, but I'm still not sure that's the most accurate description of my style. This summer I cleared a bunch of things out of my house, and I'm in the process of picking up things that better fit my style and the style of our house.

    Most days I love our older house and may have sung the "little boxes" song when we looked at a newer home in an area of town where most of the homes look the same. There are definitely days I wish for a newer home, though. An older house can definitely be a money pit at times.

  9. Apparently I am "Urban Funk," with a "Touch Classic," very interesting...

    We are in the same boat. I've lived in that little historical part of Columbus that we previously discussed for almost 7 years now! I will always have fond memories of my little "Maus Haus" where I adopted a puppy, married my husband and brought home my new baby- coming soon, but this house and I....we've run our course and we're breaking up.

    It was plenty of room and a fun neighborhood for my single 24 year old self but we're busting at the seams and I'm tired of packages being stolen off my front step and having to warn my guests not to leave ANYTHING in their cars overnight. I dream of a front porch and a garage but more than anything in this world..what I want is a second bathroom!! I'd even settle for a half bath.

    We're planning to rent our little brick bungalow out this spring (all complaining aside...I just can't stand the thought of selling it) and move to another "urban" but more established part of Columbus. Still a very walkable community but with a good school district and gorgeous old houses with mature trees. It's hard to say what our top priorities will be and how we'll arrive at them in terms of final decision.

    For us, right now, the #1 priority is a house we can afford on one income. During our 3 year marriage we both spent a few months unemployed at one point and the affordable mortgage saved us a lot of stress and heartache. I think beyond that our focus is "how do we want to live our lives?" In other words, is it a priority that I feel deeply drawn to the aesthetics (cute brick bungalows with porches) or is it more important that I live somewhere I'm surrounded by other young families with a built in peer group for my kids and a yard for them to run around in? Week by week...that yard looks awful good.

    And like a few people have said..nothing is permanent. I stayed in this little brick house already longer than I ever imagined I would. Life is full of surprises.

  10. I felt this very same way. And despite having bought a house I still feel this way. Wishing you lots of luck!